The U.S. Navy has launched its newest Freedom-variant littoral combat ship, USS Billings (LCS 15) at 10 a.m. CDT on July 1, at Fincantieri Marinette Marine shipyard in Marinette, Wisconsin.
The future USS Billings honors the largest city in Montana. It is the first ship of its name in naval service.
Sharla Tester, the wife of Montana Senator Jon Tester, served as the ship’s sponsor. The ceremony was highlighted by Mrs. Tester breaking a bottle of sparkling wine across the bow to formally christen the ship, a time-honored Navy tradition.
“The christening of the future USS Billings brings this great warship one step closer to joining the fleet, where it will, for decades to come, serve as a tribute to the great people of Billings and the state of Montana, as well as the highly skilled men and women who built our nation’s newest littoral combat ship,” said Sean Stackley, acting Secretary of the Navy days prior to the launch.
The LCS class consists of two variants, the Freedom variant and the Independence variant, designed and built by two industry teams. The Freedom variant team is led by Lockheed Martin (for the odd-numbered hulls, e.g. LCS 1). The Independence variant team is led by Austal USA (for LCS 6 and the subsequent even-numbered hulls).
Each LCS is outfitted with a single mission package made up of mission modules containing warfighting systems and support equipment. A dedicated ship crew will combine with aviation assets to deploy manned and unmanned vehicles and sensors in support of mine countermeasures, anti-submarine warfare or surface warfare missions.
— Joe Daraskevich (@JoeD_TU) July 1, 2017